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November 3, 2001 - November 3, 2001

AMC to supply half-hour addl water supply during Diwali Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has decided to provide additional water supply to citizens living within its limits for a period of 14 days during Diwali. The AMC would begin its additional water supply in the evenings from November 6. The additional supply would be for half-an-hour, at 6 pm. "It's a gift from AMC to citizens," Mayor Himmat Singh Patel told reporters.

Adulterated milk seized: AMC health officials seized 1,000 litres of milk from casual vendors in the Kalupur area on Thursday after receiving reports of adulterated milk sold in the area. Officials raided the area in the morning and found two vendors allegedly selling adulterated milk. Sensing trouble, some 150 others vendors selling milk on bicycles, managed to escape. One lakh litres of milk is consumed daily in the city, out of which 30,000 litres are supplied by adjoining villages. "The milk was devoid of fat, and powder mixed instead to give it a rich look," health committee chairman Narendra Bhatt said.

Legal literacy camp: A legal literacy camp will be organised by the Metropolitan Magistrate Court Legal Services Committee and the Ahmedabad Criminal Court Bar Association on Friday. Chief metropolitan magistrate Smita Shah and metropolitan magistrate D N Vyas will preside over the function to be held at municipal school no. 11-12, between 7 to 8 pm.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Residents near fuel pumps have sleepless night Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
VADODARA: The recent fire at a petrol pump in the Vadi Wadi area of the city has sparked of a debate regarding the rationale of having petrol pumps in busy areas of the city. Several petrol pumps have been constructed in areas buzzing with activity. Others, which were at distant places some years ago, are now amidst crowded localities.

Petrol pumps in localities like Nagarwada, Alkapuri, railway station and Fatehgunj areas of the city have now come under close scrutiny. People residing in the areas or having work places there are a concerned lot after the fire at Vadi Wadi.

Several persons who spend a considerable part of their day in such areas or have property there have come down heavily on the decision to allow petrol pumps in the vicinity of commercial or residential areas. Said Bhavish Patel, who owns a shop behind a petrol pump in Alkapuri, "It is definitely risky to have property near a petrol pump. In case of a major accident we would have to suffer a lot of damage. In busy areas the storage tanks are likely to be full throughout the day and tankers make frequent visits to empty petrol. This only increases the risk factor."

Persons owning property in such areas point out that the petrol pumps must have stricter safety measures in such areas. "It must be made mandatory for the petrol pumps to leave a plot of land empty around their area of operation. One wonders how can a building and a petrol pump share the same compound wall," said another show owner in the Alkapuri area.

However, it would be wrong to conclude that it is only after the Vadi Wadi incident that the residents have become a worried lot. Some opted to buy properties near petrol pumps only because they had few other options. "The flats here were cheap as compared to other good localities in the city. Besides, the location is convenient to me as I have a shop nearby," said S Desai, residing in a residential complex behind a petrol pump in Fatehgunj.

Desai pointed out that he would definitely not like to stay at the place for a lifetime. "Once I have some resources and a better option to stay, I will definitely shift my residence," he said.

A person having business in a shopping complex adjoining the same petrol pump said that many persons were aware of the petrol pump coming up there. "However, people neglected this as the location was ideal for their business. After the accident in Vadi Wadi, they are a worried lot," he added on conditions of anonymity.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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New NDPS makes it easy for small drug peddlers Saturday, November 3, 2001

Remember when Bollywood star Fardeen Khan was arrested outside an ATM counter in Mumbai while allegedly buying cocaine? He was booked under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, one of the most dreaded laws in the country.

But his case was an exception where an offender caught with the contraband was granted bail. But now onwards the bail enjoyed by the star would probably be extended to all offenders.

The NDPS Act 1985, which is used to check the drug menace in the country, has been amended and re-enforced since October 2 this year. While some feel the law has been diluted, others feel the misuse of the Act to trap innocent people would be reduced.

The Act, frequently used against drug-peddling cases, was amended by Parliament which granted discretionary powers to courts trying them and made it much more flexible.

Section 37 of the Act, pertaining to bail, has also been amended to the benefit of the accused. Earlier, no bail was allowed to any accused booked under the Act. But the accused would now be entitled to bail depending upon the circumstances and quantity recovered.
"Unnecessary detentions will now be a problem," said a lawyer.

The issue would now be decided on the grounds of quantity of the contraband recovered from the accused. The amended Act categorises the seizure broadly into small and commercial categories. "The amount of the haul would again be left to the trial court," said senior advocate Akhil Desai, who is handling several NDPS cases. In commercial seizures, however, bail may be denied.

Punishment as per provisions of the earlier Act was a minimum 10 years of rigorous imprisonment if an accused is convicted of peddling. The quantity seized did not matter earlier. Now onwards, the punishment would depend upon the quantity, small or commercial, seized from a peddler. According to Desai, "Depending upon the quantity and circumstances of the case the accused may either be sentenced for several years or just for a few days."

The operations of the enforcement agencies have also been made more effective. "Earlier the agencies were supposed to file a chargesheet in a case within 90 days, which has now been doubled," said Sudhir Brahmbhatt, a government counsel arguing NDPS cases. The agencies have now been granted a period of 180 days to file chargesheets, subsequent to detailed investigation. Provisions have also been granted under the new Act to grant more time to the agencies, if required to file chargesheets.

With the amended law coming into force, authorities fear the likelihood of small-scale peddling going up in the wake of the reduction in quantum punishment. The amendments are likely to benefit those accused in over 250 cases in Gujarat, one the biggest hubs of peddlers in Western India.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Ice factory sealed after gas leak Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
VADODARA: Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has sealed Shankar Ice Factory at Bavamanpura area in Panigate on Friday. Ammonia gas had leaked from the factory on Thursday night. About 12 affected people were admitted to hospital.

This is the second incident of gas leakage at Shankar Ice Factory. In 1998 a similar gas leakage was reported and the ice factory was shut down by VMC. Sources said the factory had received notices in past too.

"We sealed the factory this morning. There was panic in the area and people reacted angrily. However, the situation was brought under control quickly," chief fire officer D A Patel told TNN.

VMC ward officer Thakor Gandhi and a team of medical officers were among those who surveyed the affected area.

Meanwhile, fire officials said those affected by Thursday's gas leak include Zuber Sheikh, Mohammed Gulam Sheikh, Rehana Sheikh, Usmangani Abubakr, Shukrabibi Sheikh and Hamida Pathan.

Angry residents blamed VMC officials and charged them with criminal negligence. "This is not the first time that a gas leak was reported in the area. The ice factory has caused problems in the past too. VMC officials are lazy and ignore our complaints. They wake up only after accidents and major tragedies, that could be averted with timely action," said Ikram Shaikh, a resident of Dabifalia area in Panigate.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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GHB men gobble up common land in staff colony Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Rules are for mules _ the aphorism best suits Gujarat Housing Board officials who have in many cases brazenly grabbed common plots in colonies built by the board.

Though the board admits encroachment as a menace plaguing its colonies and blames it on 'poor civic sense' of public at large, its own officials have blatantly violated board norms in more than one case.

Yash Kamal Society built by the board for its serving and retired officials in 1980 near Jivraj Mehta Hospital symbolises 'anarchy' in the system at its worst. The houses under MIG scheme had ample space inside the society for common purposes. But 20 years later it has become a perfect model of an urban housing plan gone awry.

Interior roads have shrunk from 30 metres to 13 metres making it difficult for an ambulance to pass through during an emergency. Private plots have grown in size by acquiring the space provided for common plots.

Even essential services have not been maintained for the past 12 years as electric cables, water supply lines and sewerage connection have been enveloped inside the compound walls. The state of affairs in the colony proves it beyond doubt that what GHB professes for the public, its officials even defy it.

"Law makers have become law breakers. By virtue of their position in the board most of the society members scuttle any action to remove encroachments," says a retired board official and a resident of the society.

Encroachment goes on unchecked in the society which houses senior officials _ from assistant housing commissioner to assistant estate manager.

The 'influential' residents wield their clout to sabotage any move to demolish encroachments in the society. Even a directive from Gujarat Vigilance Commission asking the board to institute an inquiry into the issue was gathering dust for nearly a decade.

"Ongoing construction in the society is according to building by-laws and there is no illegal action involved per se," says president of the society S V Shah adding that members were impressed upon to remove the compound walls encroaching common plot and roads.

Board allotted 68 MIG tenements to its officials through conveyance deeds executed between each staff member and GHB. The stipulated property conveyed was only the land within the four walls and the structure thereupon and not even the marginal.

Since the piece of land given to society by the board was a lease land and not a free-hold land as per condition 7 (1) C, it was meant for common services. All members were allowed to use the common plot and nobody has any right to grab the common plot and road land for personal use.

When contacted, estate manager-I, GHB S B Parmar in whose jurisdiction the society falls, said the board was incapable of taking any action as the ownership of the society has been transferred to the members. "Still, I will examine the problem myself and submit a report for action to my superiors," he added.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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